American Petroleum Institute (API)

InfluenceMap Score
Performance Band
Organisation Score
Modifications to InfluenceMap Scoring
Washington DC, United States

Climate Lobbying Overview: The American Petroleum Institute appears to be broadly hostile to progressive climate policy. It does not seem to fully support the need to drastically cut emissions to limit global temperature increase to below 2C and seems to have pushed a deregulatory agenda over ambitious climate action. It does not seem to support the transition of the energy mix, emphasizing the importance of oil and gas to the American economy and opposing measures to limit fossil fuel development. Furthermore, it also appears to not support several other policies intended to cut emissions such as renewable fuel standards and carbon taxation.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: The American Petroleum Institute appears to be broadly unsupportive of progressive climate policy in its top-line messaging. Although in various comments throughout 2020, it has indicated general support for unspecified levels of emissions reductions to respond to climate change, this does not appear to be aligned with IPCC advice. For example, in July 2020, it appeared to question the feasibility of reaching net-zero emissions, following statements in December 2019 that the technology “does not yet exist” to limit temperature rise to well below 2°C. It appears to emphasize that climate policies should not compromise economic growth, as well as appearing to prioritize market-based mechanisms over other kinds of policy. In March 2021, it was reported that the API would change its position and start to support carbon pricing as the "primary government climate policy instrument to reduce CO2 emissions", while still appearing to not support other "prescriptive regulatory action". Comments from CEO Mike Sommers in December 2020 also appear to suggest that government regulation to respond to climate change is unnecessary. In his keynote speech for the API's annual State of American Energy report in 2021, Sommers said 'Mandates get us nowhere', and that the surest way to bring recovery to a stop following COVID-19 was with 'more regulations, more taxes, more restrictions on access' to federal lands and waters for oil and gas development.

The American Petroleum Institute has not taken a formal position on the Paris Agreement but in December 2019 stated it supported the “ambition” of the agreement. This position was repeated in its 2021 State of American Energy report, however, in the same report, API called the goals of the Paris Agreement ‘aggressive’ and seemed to be ambiguous as to whether the U.S. should participate in meeting the goals.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: The American Petroleum Institute appears to be highly opposed to specific climate-related regulations and since the 2016 US election, the group seems to have promoted a deregulatory agenda in the country over ambitious policy to respond to climate change. API has continued to promote this deregulatory agenda in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, advocating President Trump waive testing and reporting requirements for a range of policies, including those relevant for GHG emissions.

The API has also continued to oppose specific policies intended to cut emissions. In October 2020, it stated it would oppose any carbon tax that would increase the price of US oil and gas exports, following comments from February 2019 submitted to the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee that “New and increased taxes… can only slow growth and investment.” In March 2021, the API announced an apparent change in its position to support carbon pricing, but still stopped short of explicitly endorsing a carbon tax. In addition, the API has heavily criticized the Renewable Fuels Standard, tweeting in April 2020 that “it is time to get rid of this broken mandate”. Furthermore, in November 2019, the API directly advocated against the EPA’s proposed increases in biofuel blending requirements under the Renewable Energy Standard. API has again called for the repeal of the RFS in January 2021.

Until January 2021, the API appeared to strongly oppose regulation of methane emissions, supporting the EPA rollback of methane regulations in August 2020, reportedly having previously met with White House and EPA staff in an attempt to loosen these regulations. In addition, in the first quarter of 2020, API appears to have opposed more ambitious oil well bonding legislation that would require industry to commit more money to fix methane leaks from abandoned wells. In January 2021, however, the API appears to have reversed its position on the federal and direct regulation of methane and has now stated it supports such a policy. This follows Total S.A revoking its membership to API after the industry association's State of American Energy address. In its communications on methane regulation, API has stated it would support 'sensible' and 'workable' regulations. It remains unclear at this point what API deems sensible and workable with regard to methane regulation. In May 2021, the API appeared to not fully support an ambitious implementation of methane regulation under the PIPES Act, stating in a submission to that "stringent regulatory mandates... must consider the cost to ratepayers and the ability of utilities to effectively comply". In September 2021, the API coordinated with other oil and gas industry groups to send a joint letter to the Committee on Environment and Public Works opposing the Methane Emissions Reduction Act of 2021, which would introduce a tax on methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

Positioning on Energy Transition: API does not appear to support the transition of the energy mix. In its public messaging, it has repeatedly stressed the importance of oil and gas to the US economy and US national security and in June 2019 argued that oil and gas “will supply more than half of America’s energy needs for decades to come”. API’s preferred method of reducing emissions appears to be coal-to-natural-gas switching, which it also claims is essential to support renewable energy expansion. However, it shows mixed support for government measures to actually phase coal out of the energy mix. In August 2019, it appeared to oppose government intervention to prohibit new or expanded coal mines, but in May 2019, it opposed legislation in Ohio that would introduce subsidies for coal power plants and in July 2018, it appeared to oppose federal plans to bailout uneconomic coal plants.

It appears to have lobbied heavily in favor of measures that will help maintain a high GHG energy mix, for example in November 2020, supporting the removal of restrictions on oil and gas production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as suggesting punitive measures, such as preventing access to Covid-19 relief funding, for banks that have chosen not to fund Arctic-drilling projects. API appears to oppose government intervention that will limit fossil fuel development. For example, in September 2020, API opposed an expanded moratorium on offshore oil and gas development off the coast of Florida and in November 2020, CEO Mike Sommers stated that API would use ‘“every tool at its disposal” including legal action’ to block a proposed ban on fracking on federal land and water. Furthermore, statements from August 2020 suggest API appears to support continued subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, arguing these are “tax loopholes and deductions available to all industries”. These positions have been repeated in its 2021 State of American Energy Report, in which API argues against a ban on fracking, opposing restrictions on federal waters and land for oil and gas production, the weakening of the National Environmental Policy Act and renewal of the Nationwide Permit 12 program – both of which serve to make permitting approval processes for oil and gas infrastructure quicker and easier.

In addition, API does not appear to support the electrification of transport. In the first half of 2020, API launched the Transportation Fairness Alliance, a coalition described by Desmog as intended “to counter policies designed to accelerate the transition away from petroleum-powered transportation”. API appears to have opposed several specific policies to encourage the electrification of transport in 2020, including the rebate for drivers who trade in ICE vehicles for EVs as well as financial incentives for electric vehicles. In its 2021 State of American Energy report, API again opposed policies designed to incentivize the uptake of electric vehicles, arguing that subsidies, credits and sales mandates, that favor electric vehicles, like those in California, would ‘hinder America’s progress’.

Main Web Site Social Media CDP Responses Legislative Consultations Media Reports CEO Messaging Financial Disclosures
Communication of Climate Science
0 NS NA -2 -1 NS NA
Alignment with IPCC on Climate Action
-1 -1 NA 0 -1 -1 NA
Supporting the Need for Regulations
-1 0 NA -1 0 0 NA
Support of UN Climate Process
0 0 NA NS 0 0 NA
Transparency on Legislation
Carbon Tax
NS -2 NA -2 -1 -1 NA
Emissions Trading
NS -1 NA NS NS -1 NA
Energy and Resource Efficiency
Renewable Energy
-2 -2 NA -2 -2 -2 NA
Energy Transition & Zero Carbon Technologies
-1 -1 NA -1 -2 -1 NA
GHG Emission Regulation
0 -1 NA -1 -1 0 NA
Disclosure on Relationships